Martin Lambie-Nairn

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Martin Lambie-Nairn
Martin ln.jpg
Martin Lambie-Nairn in 2008
Born (1945-08-05) 5 August 1945 (age 72)
Occupation Creative director ml-n
founder of Lambie-Nairn
Known for Channel 4 "Blocks" logo
BBC1 "Virtual Globe"
BBC Two 'The 2s' idents
The Personality 2s
Rhythm & Movement
BBC One 'Balloon' idents

Martin Lambie-Nairn (born 5 August 1945) is a British designer. He was the founder of his eponymous branding agency Lambie-Nairn and is currently the creative director of branding agency ML-N. Martin Lambie-Nairn is acknowledged for having redefined television brand identity design, being the first to embrace computer technologies to apply branding to screen-based media.

Amongst his most prominent works are: the original Channel 4 logo and idents created in 1982; the batch of 30+ idents for BBC Two that first aired on 16 February 1991; and the 1997 corporate re-brand for the whole BBC. He, in conjunction with his agency, also created launch packages for certain other BBC channels.


Early work[edit]

Martin Lambie-Nairn was educated at Canterbury College of Art, later KIAD, now University College for the Creative Arts at Canterbury. His career in television began at the BBC in 1965 as an intern. Roles as a graphic designer at Rediffusion, ITN and London Weekend Television followed. Lambie-Nairn set up his own company, Robinson Lambie-Nairn, with fellow partner Colin Robinson in 1976 after leaving LWT, and he went on to develop new graphic presentation techniques for Weekend World. The business expanded and was renamed Lambie-Nairn & Company in 1990.

Computer animation enabled him to produce what became regarded as a revolutionary identity[1] for Channel 4, the "Blocks" logo.[1] This identity launched the fledgling TV channel on 2 November 1982 and remained at the heart of the channel's on-air presentation for 14 years. In 1981 he created the original idea[citation needed] for the UK TV series Spitting Image[2] which ran for 11 years. He received the credit that the show was "based on an original lunch with Martin Lambie-Nairn."

Following Channel 4 and Spitting Image, he worked as a director of computer animated commercials, producing the first ever 30 second computer generated TV advertisement in the UK, which was a commercial for Smarties.[3]

The BBC years[edit]

In 1990, Lambie-Nairn became consultant creative director of the BBC brand, a position he was to hold for 12 years. During this period[4] Martin Lambie-Nairn and his company rebranded the BBC and all of its outputs, across all media. The most famous channel identity was for BBC Two,[5] commissioned by then-controller Alan Yentob. All of the idents in the first series employed traditional live action. Later, with the change of target audience, a new generation of idents was commissioned and produced using CGI.

For BBC1, Martin Lambie-Nairn and Daniel Barber redesigned the globe identity, a well-recognised icon of the BBC, having been introduced in 1936.

In 1997, he wrote Brand Identity for Television: With Knobs On,.[6] He used the book to reveal how he and his colleagues achieved key identities.

Later, Lambie-Nairn again redesigned the identity for BBC One – creating the famous red hot air balloon that was used for a new series of idents aired on BBC One from 4 October. This aimed to capture the idea that the channel brought the whole world to every corner of the United Kingdom. He also co-conceived the Rhythm & Movement idents for BBC One first shown on 29 March 2002. In 2001 he created BBC Two's 2001–2007 Personality 2s series of idents, which featured robotic figure 2s, each displaying individual personalities, which went on the air on 19 November. Lambie-Nairn also designed ident packages for BBC News 24 (now called BBC News), BBC Choice, CBeebies, CBBC, BBC Four and BBC Three.


In April 2008 Lambie-Nairn left the practice he founded to join Heavenly as Creative Director, leaving in 2010.

Lambie-Nairn now has his own consultancy, ML-N, based in London.


Through ML-N, Martin was appointed consultant creative director for the research company, TNS.[7]


Martin Lambie-Nairn is an RDI (Royal Designer for Industry),[8] Fellow of the Royal Television Society,[9] and an ex-president of D&AD. He has received the D&AD President's Award, Prince Philip Design Prize, Promax Lifetime Achievement Award[10] and Promax Hall of Fame (USA). Martin has received a Gold D&AD for his work for Channel 4, multiple Silver D&ADs, a BAFTA[11] for his work for BBC2 and multiple Promax Awards.

Lambie-Nairn holds an Honorary Doctor of Arts from the University of Lincoln, and is Visiting Professor[12] at the Faculty of Art, Architecture and Design. He also holds an Honorary Doctor of Arts from The University of Northampton.


See also[edit]


External links[edit]